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The 'American dream' is actually Swedish: study

AFP/The Local · 3 Nov 2010, 18:00

Published: 03 Nov 2010 18:00 GMT+01:00

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Forget the socialist-bashing rhetoric and reverence for the filthy rich, when it comes to wealth distribution, Americans -- even Republicans -- would really rather live somewhere like Sweden.

According to a soon-to-be published study by researchers at Harvard and Duke universities, Americans believe US society is much more equal than it really is, and want it to be even fairer.

Business school professors Michael Norton and Dan Ariely asked 5,522 Americans about US wealth distribution and how it should look if things could be changed.

"Respondents vastly underestimated the actual level of wealth inequality in the United States, believing that the wealthiest quintile (20 percent) held about 59 percent of the wealth when the actual number is closer to 84 percent."

Studies show current US wealth inequality is near record highs, with the top one percent of Americans estimated to hold around 50 percent of the nation's wealth.

According to Norton and Ariely this tops "even the levels seen just before the Great Depression in the 1920s."

But when asked how they would like the United States to look, respondents picked "wealth distributions that were far more equitable than even their erroneously low estimates of the actual distribution."

In a blind test, about 92 percent of respondents said they preferred a model closer to Sweden's wealth distribution to that seen in the United States.

The study's authors also reported a "surprising level of consensus" among different groups, with 92 percent of Republican voters backing the Swedish model versus 93.5 percent of Democratic voters, with the richest and poorest also voting along similar lines.

"All demographic groups -- even those not usually associated with wealth redistribution such as Republicans and the wealthy -- desired a more equal distribution of wealth than the status quo."

On average the top 20 percent of earners were seen as holding just 32 percent of wealth, less than the 84 percent in reality.

But anyone hoping this augurs well for a revolution will be disappointed.

Even if Americans become more aware of the wealth gap that exists, Norton and Ariely suggest they may misplaced faith in the "American Dream" to correct it.

"Just as people have erroneous beliefs about the actual level of wealth inequality, they may also hold overly optimistic beliefs about opportunities for social mobility in the United States -- beliefs which in turn may drive support for unequal distributions of wealth."

Story continues below…

Disagreements about the causes of inequality may also drown out the consensus.

The authors also suggest there is a gap between what people would like to see and the policies they are willing to support to get there.

The study is to be published in the journal "Perspectives on Psychological Science".

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

19:26 November 3, 2010 by Nemesis
A suggestion for the author of this article.

Goto a Tea party meeting or appear on Fox News and repeat your story.

I am sure we can watch the results on Youtube.
05:28 November 4, 2010 by Da Goat
According to Norton and Ariely this tops "even the levels seen just before the Great Depression in the 1920s."

I wonder if this is a good omen, maybe a little prophetic! we know it is coming.
11:14 November 4, 2010 by calebian22
"Surprising level of consensus" = biased results.

Over 90% of respondants prefer the Swedish model? Not really surprising results considering the fantasy land where American academics live.
14:28 November 4, 2010 by svenskamerikansk
This article is wildly off base off base, to put it mildly.

File it under either 'propaganda' or 'subjective wishful thinking' .
14:54 November 4, 2010 by Roy E
The Local should be embarrassed for reprinting this absurd article.

America aspires to equality of opportunity - not equality of result., hence the unequivocal rebuke of Obama and his Democrat control freaks.
18:17 November 4, 2010 by Michael Whitfield
Would be interesting to find out where the writer came up with this idea that Americans prefer the Swedish wealth distribution model. Republicans prefer less taxes and smaller government. We do not want to pay 50-60% in taxes for a cradle to the grave welfare system. While the Swedish social and healthcare system is ideal and works for Sweden it is manageable. Sweden's population is roughly 8 - 9 million citizens. We have nearly that many illegals living in California. Also California is on the brink of economic disaster and ruin. To top it off, the voters in California keep electing these social democrats in their state government. The Dems are quite generous with other peoples money.
18:32 November 4, 2010 by mukiwa
The author of this article is obviously mentally deranged. He must have conducted his survey in the most uber left bastions that exist in the USA. He is the poster boy for the adage "figures lie and liars figure". A study from Harvard and Duke, arguably the two most liberal universities in the USA, I can hardly wait....I am sure it will be fair and unbias, NOT

I'm guessing that Mr. Beatty has failed to notice our last election where the conservatives defeated the liberals by the largest margin in the last 70 years.

I am really disappointed that "The Local" would publish such a bias, misleading, factually dishonest article. Shame on you !
20:29 November 4, 2010 by GefleFrequentFlyer
Mr. Beatty, you are woefully mistaken and I would love to see the scientific parameters of your "blind test".

Fact: America is, and always will be a centre-right country. This fact was demonstrated to full effect this week. The majority of americans believe in the thinnest form of government.

Americans nationwide rejected the "redistribution" effects of the healthcare law, tax cut/credit policy, limits on tax deductible charitable donations, bailout union pandering and expanded entitlement "reforms" such as foodstamps, unemployment benefits and subsidize housing. All of these are by definition "redistribution"; taking from one, giving to another.

I hope this journal "report" is not for academic credit, because you failed miserably.
22:56 November 4, 2010 by Swedesmith
As a member of the rapidly disappearing middle class, I get real nervous when I hear the words "redistibution of wealth". To me that sounds like, "bend over, you're about to get screwed."
23:42 November 4, 2010 by markusd
The people who created this study forgot to ask about the methods used to achieve this 'ideal' wealth distribution. If a more even wealth distribution can be created by the poor actually earning more, then I'd be surprised that 100% wouldn't be in favor of it. However, if you ask Americans if a more even wealth distribution should be achieved by taking money from person X and giving to person Y, then you will only get support from a small percentage. Why? Because while we Americans greatly admire people who willingly give a percentage of their wealth to help others, we see the involuntary redistribution of wealth for what it is…stealing.
02:34 November 5, 2010 by luståfägring
As a member of the rapidly disappearing middle class, I get real nervous when I hear the words "redistibution of wealth". To me that sounds like, "bend over, you're about to get screwed."

Just a curious math question for you: If you are middle class and 84% of the wealth is held by the richest 20% of the population, why do you think you would be handing over money in a redistribution of wealth? There's no point redistributing the the other 16% that you're part of.
02:56 November 5, 2010 by Swedesmith
The rich guys have swarms of lawyers to protect their money. The poor guys has nothing to give. So the working stiff (aka the middle class) always ends up footing the bill.
13:11 November 5, 2010 by Syftfel
What a completely idiotic article this Beatty has penned. Who paid him to write such rubbish, one asks. Most Americans do NOT want to live in a European style socialist proletarian utopia. It is simply noy the American way. Self sufficiency and personal responsibility is. The election results on November 2nd, on the contrary, shows that we think that putting this marxist agitator/streetcorner leafleteer in the White House was a grave mistake, pushed forward by the "mainstream" media and other etremist fringe leftists at The New York Times and CNN. Swedes are well advised to ignore Beatty's propaganda piece and listen to what Americans have to say. The reality is that Americans think that 2012 can't arrive fast enough, so we can get back on track again.
13:46 November 5, 2010 by T Murphy
Really? What was the method of sampling?

The poll taken on Tuesday November 2nd looks a lot different and that's the only one that counts.

Americans believe in equality of opportunity not equality of outcome - generally.

It's the leftist social engineers that want to hammer down the high achievers and they're generally ensconced in a fairy tale world that doesn't care about producing results. Hmmm, like Harvard and Duke…geez, who did you say produced that study?
14:30 November 5, 2010 by Jason B
I only wish that this study were true, but I have a very hard time believing that such a high percentage of Americans support the Swedish model. Do more than 90% of Swedes support the Swedish model?

After reading the comments here, I am quite surprised to see so many angry republican/conservatives/tea-baggers living in Sweden (or perhaps just reading the from the US?). I thought I left you behind when I moved here ...
15:05 November 5, 2010 by Roy E
@ Jason B

"I thought I left you behind when I moved here ...

They're just spectres of your intolerance, living rent free in your own mind and of your own volition.
16:21 November 5, 2010 by calebian22
Maybe the Swedish model that 90% of Americans prefer is named Caroline Winberg? Then I might believe the high percentage.
16:38 November 5, 2010 by Whitehall
A key phrase is "hold wealth." This is the capital of the country, the resources that are put to use making more capital. This creates jobs and raises the overall standard of living.

Poor people don't "hold wealth", they spend their money. Little investment results form the incomes of the lower income groups.

Yes, the authors of the study and the author of the report on the study, are very, very confused.

Like we often say in the US, "no poor person ever gave me a job."
18:56 November 5, 2010 by mojofat
Good lord, who are all of these tea baggers infesting the local's forums?!

@Michael Whitfield

" Republicans prefer less taxes and smaller government. "

Oh really? Since when? I mean, aside from bumper stickers and sloganeering. They had unchecked power from '01-'06, yet expanded government got us into two wars, and allowed the deficit to rise to unprecedented levels. Not to mention the worst job creation performance in many decades and a greater "redistribution" of wealth from the middle class/poor to the top 5%.


"A study from Harvard and Duke, arguably the two most liberal universities in the USA, "

Yeah, George W. Bush is so liberal. Harvard MBA '75...duhrrrr...more of that good ol' conservative fact checking.

@Jason B

"After reading the comments here, I am quite surprised to see so many angry republican/conservatives/tea-baggers living in Sweden (or perhaps just reading the from the US?). I thought I left you behind when I moved here ..."

I second that. Tea baggers are a group of below-average americans being exploited by a few powerful interests who hide behind George Washington costumes and freedom-sounding names. Much the same way the conservative Republicans use Jesus and war to exploit the red-blooded patriotic masses who can't be bothered to ever actually read anything. Instead, it's far easier to watch Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity and stick a flag on your porch so you can feel like you're contributing.

Neo-Cons like to use scare tactics to maintain power. Their favorite is that "liberals" and "progressives" represent this existential threat to american values. They perpetuate and create lies like Obama is an illegitimate President. These are tactics used by fascists. They say they want less government and fewer taxes, except when it comes to controlling a woman's right to choose or funding of their latest wars. They arrogantly believe their narrow black-and-white view of the world is holy and sanctioned by God, and that free-market forces are the easy answer to everything. Easy answers are the only ones the majority of them can accept, because thinking is too difficult. A world of gray hues is too difficult and complex...might require compromise or listening to somebody else. Compromise is only something somebody else does...because Jesus speaks to them personally.

These self-righteous republicans/teabaggers need to get real...they haven't a clue what america is really about. And as such, they're the ones destroying it. Their poster boy Bush set those wheels in motion.

20:01 November 5, 2010 by BravoTango
I agree with the opinion that the American people voted against wealth re-distribution on November 2nd. This so called survey is merely the attempt of some left leaning academic to somehow prop up the "Obamanation" that was sweeping America before real people came to their senses and sent a strong message to Washington telling the Democrats to stay out of our lives and wallets.
20:27 November 5, 2010 by billyb362
Andrew Beatty = Leftist Propaganda
20:28 November 5, 2010 by mikewhite
The question some of us ask though is, "Is that guy earning 1000x the poor guy in the 7 day 12 hour manual job really working 1000x as hard, to deserve it ?"
23:39 November 5, 2010 by markusd
@milkwhite, "The question some of us ask though is, "Is that guy earning 1000x the poor guy in the 7 day 12 hour manual job really working 1000x as hard, to deserve it ?"

Of course the rich guy doesn't work 1000x as hard. But your question is based on the false premise that someone's earnings should be a linear function of how hard they work. Someone digging ditches all day probably works harder on his worst day than Bill Gates on his best but do you think he should make more money?

When it comes to wealth, hard work is just a filter. Working hard alone won't make you wealthy but failing to work hard almost guarantees that you'll stay poor.

The key to wealth is the creation of value, and the more unique that value is, the better. You have to figure out what someone wants and then how to get it to them at a workable price. Hard work is necessary but you also need to be a good problem solver, very knowledgeable in your area, maybe take a risk or two along the way and do what you do better than most. And with all that you still might fail but at least you've maximized your odds.
14:00 November 6, 2010 by cogito

Anger, stupidity, intolerance and hate--all the traits you attribute to the Tea Party are evident in abundance...in your own post (#19). Plus your throw in some vulgarities and the de rigueuer "fascist." You are a paradigm of lib-talk.

The Dem. strategy to save the 2010 election was to distract voters from their abysmal record over the past four years and paint their opponents as wacky extremists or just plain evil. It failed. Get over it.

"Elections have consequences." Hmmm, who said that?

A rhetorical tip: the first one to use "fascist," "nazi" and the like loses the debate.
19:33 November 6, 2010 by HYBRED
It seems as though they forgot to mention about all the tax these upper class people pay, which is a significant amount. And how the lower middle class on down pays little or no tax, and in some cases negative tax. Meaning no tax is paid and they actually get money back.

In a free western society al you are owed is a opportunity to succeed. Is you study and work hard you will achieve your dreams. If you lay around on the couch all day smoking dope and watching Oprah you will not accomplish much.
05:46 November 7, 2010 by undrgrndgirl
@ calebian22

""Surprising level of consensus" = biased results.

Over 90% of respondants prefer the Swedish model? Not really surprising results considering the fantasy land where American academics live."

nice way to take a quote out of context there, calebian, the researchers were talking about consensus between those responding to the questions, not the researchers themselves...

@markusd...i think you meant the ditch digger works harder on his BEST day than bill gates works on his WORST...moron...one might ask who's work is more important to society, the ditch digger's or bill gate's, if it is the ditch digger (and i've seen polls where ditch diggers are rated more important to society than a gates or a trump) than shouldn't the ditch digger be paid more?

@bravotango...so, you want the government out of your wallet? then tell congress to stop funding the military at 660 billion (in 2009, not counting the illegal wars)...a 50% cut and we'd STILL outstrip all our "enemies" combined...now that's what i'd call getting the government out of MY wallet...

oh, and i could go on, too many tbagger to little time...sigh...
17:03 November 7, 2010 by VWDriver
I am for redistribution of taxes, a flat sales tax to allow all the parasites to contribute to the cause. I put myself through school and I work hard every day. Why would I think someone who made bad choices deserves a dime of my money? I would be willing however to part with enough frequent flyer miles to send an uneducated, lazy, lush on a one-way trip to enjoy the socialist lifestyle of Sweden for the rest of their life.

These losers in search of a free ride have most likely never visted, much less lived in a good socialist country. They all need to go to Sweden, Germany, France, England, Denmark, Cuba, China, etc and start living the good life, and of course experience taxation at its highest.

Welcome to Fantasy Island.
19:26 November 7, 2010 by NovaLand
The grass is always greener on the other side...
20:36 November 7, 2010 by PonceDeLeon
Many, if not most Americans couldn't tell you the difference between Switzerland and Sweden... The only thing they know about Sweden is Ikea and meatballs.. "The man on the street" in the States, honestly doesn't give it a second thought. You go to America for "The Opportunity to succeed. If you want a hand out you go somewhere else.."
20:54 November 7, 2010 by mkvgtired
@undrgrndgirl, so someone transposes two words in an otherwise well written response and that makes them a moron? Please cite these "polls". Not to mention just because it might be popular opinion that a ditch digger is more important than Bill Gates does not make it so. Even if you are using a Mac right now Bill Gates was one of the major figures that developed the Graphical User Interface, making home computing accessible for all. Most likely the majority of the servers routing this internet traffic are running windows. The software pioneered by Bill Gates can be found in the smallest corners of the global network of computers and information connecting the world. His invention has made the world a much smaller place and brought people together from all over the world, how many ditch diggers have done that? I have not even touched on what his invention has done for global business.

As others have said someone's income is correlated to how in demand the good or service they offer is. A ditch digger sells his or her service to a company or municipality that owns the pipe being laid. Bill gates has sold his product to hundreds of millions, if not billions of people and companies. If a ditch digger wants to make more money they have to invest in teaching themselves a skill that is not inherent in every able bodied person. Why is it so difficult to get basic economic principles across to you idealists?...moron
21:57 November 7, 2010 by markusd
@undrgrndgirl , "@markusd...i think you meant the ditch digger works harder on his BEST day than bill gates works on his WORST...moron..."

"...moron..."? Isn't anonymity on the internet great? You can question the intelligence of another while displaying a complete lack of it and no one ever finds out who you are.

Anyway, I meant it exactly as I wrote it. Based on the definition of 'hard work' common in many people's minds, the ditch digger on his worst day (let's say he has the flu or something) probably still works harder (sweats alot, works his muscles, etc) than Bill Gates on his best (18 hour days, lots of meetings, making decisions, etc). The point was that even though the manual laborer "works hard" or harder than some rich guy (Bill Gates in this case), there's no reason he should be paid the same or more because he doesn't produce the same value.

@undrgrndgirl, "one might ask who's work is more important to society, the ditch digger's or bill gate's, if it is the ditch digger (and i've seen polls where ditch diggers are rated more important to society than a gates or a trump) than shouldn't the ditch digger be paid more?"

The question of who is more important to society is asked billions of times each and every day and you answer it every time you buy something, or refuse to buy it at the offered price. If you think that a ditch digger is worth a million dollars then you are free to pay him that amount. If you think that someone's software is overpriced then you are free not to buy it, thereby doing your part to reduce the unfairly high salaries of all those involved in its creation. The poll that involves people actually putting their own money on the line is the only one that counts. If we used your poll to make financial decisions, everything would grind to a complete stop. No one would have any incentive to start a business and create jobs but everyone would want to dig holes in the ground.
22:57 November 7, 2010 by Danne8
it's incredible to see how much time do people have to write so much bull**** over some random news...

It's also funny to hear that americans know the difference between economic models across seas when they don't even know their own...

The intelligence ratio in US is similar to their wealth ratio
02:08 November 8, 2010 by 2394040
A respected American college professor has stated that "nations rise and fall based on the decisions of their leaders". America's LAST great leader was Franklin Roosevelt, who died in 1945. And since that time America has been in a state of steady decline. The same professor stated flatly that "America shares the fate of all the great empires of the past". And anyone with a basic knowledge of world history knows where all those "great empires" are today. The really great tragedy is that Americans for the most part are in a state of denial, and refuse to see what is happening to their country. They have been lied to so much by incompetent and dishonest leadership that they can no longer differentiate lies from truth. I was born just after World War II and have lived in the USA all of my life. It's difficult for me to believe how much America has declined in my lifetime. And it seems that most either don't know or don't want to know. Tragic!
11:45 November 8, 2010 by Dr. Dillner
NO, we do not. Economic redistribution is foolish and most realize this.
19:11 November 8, 2010 by mukiwa

Just because the university is ultra liberal does not imply that all the students are...duhrrrrrr.

"W" was not our most conservative President.....certainly not nearly as liberal as what our current one is.....(read ultra socialist) nor did "W" exhibit an ego nearly as

large as our current President.....Notice obama's physical manner, facial expressions, manner of moving and then watch some of the film clips of mussolini....very compable.

similar intelligence levels also.
20:51 November 8, 2010 by calebian22

How is that out of context? They got a surprisingly high level of consensus. They achieved a result that was really unexpected. In statistics and experimental methods when results are overwhelmingly unexpected, biased results are often the reason. (meaning that the methodology is potentially flawed so a biased result is the outcome) If you had ever read a statistics book, you would know this.
21:17 November 8, 2010 by Tdye
@ Michael Whitfield

Republicans do not want tax cuts and smaller government like you say

Republicans want tax cuts for the top 1% of Americans..republicans was smaller government?

what they want is to control the lives of everyone with strict rules and regulations

tell us what to eat.. when to eat it.. tell us we better believe in god and we better get to church.. they want us to work over time for less wages

you figure of 50-60% tax for everyone is WAY off

just like a republican you bloat the figures and blame everyone else

Socialism can work in the US..but because of the republiCANTs..that wont happen it is all about the bottom dollar.. forget the people of the country that cant pay for over priced health care,or buy food, or decent clothes or even have enough money for a proper education....it is because of the republicans that the country is screwed..

NO reason it costs $600-800 for an ambulance ride 2 miles down the road.. none at all...Socialism is very simple... you work hard you get paid well.. you lay around on your butt you dont...300+ bucks a month health insurance and it doesnt even cover but 80% ( if you are lucky) thats AFTER the deductible... republicans are crooks
21:28 November 8, 2010 by beefinswede
The sooner the yanks wake up from the 'american dream' the better it will be for everyone.

It is nothing more than a carrot on a stick that by design, the vast majority never reach; which allows for a grossly iniquitous society to be possible.
21:29 November 8, 2010 by babychuma
I don't buy many of the conclusions reached by these statistics. In most of the US people are middle to upper middle with pockets of poverty mainly clustered around urban areas. This gives the impression of a large disparity because the difference between the very wealthy and very poor, but mostly middle class Americans live as well as the wealthy with good schools, safe streets, good nutrition and healthcare. It's when you compare the wealthy to illeagals and the hardcore urban poor that you see this class problem. I think everyone should expect to have to fend for themselves and not expect that the government can by increasing in size improve their circumstances. Working in the US is not an option.
21:39 November 8, 2010 by wxman
Even though he's a socialist at least Jason , several posts ago, had the decency to move to a socialist-friendly country to live instead of trying to destroy a country designed by it's framers to be a free-market capitalist nation. As for Tyde, socialism could never work in the US because the hard-working American entrepeneur, who puts in 60 hours of work/week, will never allow lazy good-for-nothing parasites to force him to be used as slave labor to support the socialist utopia. What you socialist dreamers need to do is what the Israelis did in the late 40's when they set up the originally socialist State of Israel. You all need to move to a socialist-friendly country and set up Kibutzes. That would mean all lazy ass parasites would have to produce every day at specific tasks for long hours and then contribute to the collective for the good of all. That's the only way your socialism will ever work. However, as long as they remain lazy malcontent loser non-producers looking for a hand out, a successful socialist society is simple the pipe dream of the left.
22:14 November 8, 2010 by samwise
so the Americans are more Swedish-minded than the Swedes. It's amazing the researchers appear to believe their findings.
22:16 November 8, 2010 by Anarka
Are most of the people making these comments from USA? I really hope that most of these comments here are not from Swedes because its really scary to me If Swedes have become so capitalist becuase I live next door in Finland. It seems most of the comments on here are from people with very capitalist attitudes. I live in Finland which is a pretty socialist country. I was born in USA and can honestly say that Finland has given me much more oportunities in life than USA ever has. Capitalism only works for the rich in the end, socialism is what helps money to circulate and its a good crime stopper. When the average person has enough money for his or her basic needs people are less likely to fall into illegal activity such as theft and selling of drugs
00:25 November 9, 2010 by zappafan
"Republicans are people too. Mean, selfish, greedy people."
00:37 November 9, 2010 by babychuma
hey zappafan,

partners and associates of Goldman Sachs and other wall street firms gave many times more to the campaigns of democrats than republicans in '08, including president Obama's, and then were then the recipients of gobs of TARP bailout money (remember the phrase"too big to fail"), my point? They're just as mean and greedy just less honest about it.
18:19 November 9, 2010 by markusd
@zappafan, "Republicans are people too. Mean, selfish, greedy people."

You might want to do yourself a favor and check out the charitable donation data available on the IRS website. They have a spreadsheet that breaks everything out by state. The results are pretty interesting when you compare donation data to who that state voted for in the last few presidential elections.

If you don't feel like doing it yourself, I'll just let you know that it tends to indicate that Republicans not only are generous but are actually more generous on average than Democrats. It illustrates the basic philosophical difference between the parties when it comes to charity. Republicans are more generous with their own money while Democrats are more generous with other people's money.
19:53 November 9, 2010 by wxman
Well said Markusd, but don't try to make a point with a liberal by showing them facts. It only confuses and angers them. They've already made up their minds as to the way the world "is" and any information to the contrary is dismissed. They rely on feelings rather than facts and reality. This always leads them to the wrong conclusions and consequently will guarantee a bad decision every time. Sad and pathetic, really.
21:01 November 9, 2010 by Alohart
I, too, was born at the end of WWII. During my 60+ years living in the U.S., I have been saddened to experience the decline of the U.S. in almost all ways. The U.S. has gone from the world's biggest creditor to the biggest debtor, both personally and publicly. It has descended from the top of the industrialized world in education, healthcare, and many other important measurements of an advanced society to near the bottom.

I have heard all my life that individual freedom was necessary for the success that had eluded the more socialistic countries. Unfortunately, those preaching the importance of individual freedom have ignored the consequences of millions of "free" people behaving irresponsibly. I finally decided to learn first-hand whether a more collective society was doomed to fail, so I immigrated to Sweden 2 years ago.

I have been shocked by how well things work in Sweden, in general, compared with the U.S. Sweden ranks near the top in how its government is viewed by its citizens whereas the U.S. ranks near the bottom of the industrialized world. The Tea Partiers are correct that the U.S. government is seriously broken, but their solutions won't solve the problem. Until the overwhelming influence of big money is removed, the U.S. government won't represent the majority of their citizens and will continue to be very unpopular. The Tea Partiers' solution is to reduce the size of government which will allow corporations and the wealthy to run amok even more than they currently are. Third World countries have the least governmental regulations or regulations that aren't enforced, so their markets are the most free. The U.S. will be joining their ranks if things continue as they are.

I am back visiting the U.S. now and can see how much the infrastructure has continued to crumble, how many more people are homeless, how many more people cannot receive the basic healthcare necessary to remain healthy, etc. Yet the strident Tea Party voices attack ideas that work well elsewhere or that educated, experienced experts recommend if these ideas might infringe on their precious perceived individual freedoms. Why even bother with education when it is now discredited by so many in the U.S.? They scream "socialist", "liberal", "commie", etc., rather than objecting to the merits of the ideas. That's really intelligent!

I'm convinced now that they will ride their sinking ship to the bottom of the ocean before admitting that a better way might exist. It will be a long, ugly descent into the Third World. The U.S. hasn't had a progressive government during my lifetime including the current one. Conservative U.S. governments have presided over the decline of the U.S. Continuing to behave in the same way but expecting a different result is one definition of insanity. I thank my lucky stars that I have a refuge from this insanity in Sweden.
15:27 November 11, 2010 by kalt87
I think that it is scary how ignorant and dumb most of the americans seem to be. My view of the majority of americans: stupid,arrogant, pro-war,non environmental, religious conservatist and obese.
19:31 November 11, 2010 by Iraniboy
A good forum to spot those American poster who have no respect for Swedish values but they pretend to support it in other threads!!!
16:35 November 12, 2010 by Swedesmith
@Alohart #47 If you are still reading this thread, I would be interested in hearing more of your experiences as an American in Sweden.

I am an American who has lived in Sweden and then returned to America to finish out my 35 years until retirement. I am getting close to that now and my wife (a Swede) and I are thinking of returning to Sweden.
19:58 November 12, 2010 by Michael Whitfield

I am not a Tea Party advocate, but perhaps you missed the results of the election last week. Is it possible that Obama thing is not working out too well? Just imagine those mean spirited, greedy, selfish Republicans taking back the House. Such a travesty. Also poor Nancy 'we to pass this bill so we can see what's in it' Pelousy is no longer the House Speaker icon.
01:32 November 13, 2010 by sgt_doom
There are some commenters here who don't appear to understand American politics (not surprising, most Americans don't either, therefore, please take a moment to read a paper on this:

Deconstructing American Political Theater

Please allow us to look behind the curtain for a brief moment, and see what really goes on there.

When Bill Clinton was elected president the first time back in 1992, he was elected with a minority of the vote (only 40 percent, or thereabouts), thanks to the spoiler Ross Perot, who entered the campaign to draw away votes from President George H.W. Bush.

Why was this? Because Bush had failed to deliver N.A.F.T.A., and the banksters were annoyed. H. Ross Perot, heavily indebted to the banksters for funding, and extremely heavily indebted to the Texas democratic political machine for his education (nomination to the Naval Academy), his early out from his military obligation, and his fortune thanks to sweetheart government contracts, answered the call.

It is crucial to explain that Perot's brother-in-law happens to be Ramsey Clark, President Johnson's former attorney general and a member of the highly influential Clark family of Texas, a multi-generational political family not unlike the Bush family, but to a lesser degree.

Next the republicans take over the House and Senate in the next national election, so logically, they should put forth their strongest candidate against Clinton during his re-election campaign, but that isn't the plan.

The plan was to keep their man Clinton in as president, therefore the weakest candidate, Bob Dole, is run against him and loses handily.

Now one cannot blame the economy on President Obama; the American economy was dismantled over the preceding 35 years, but Obama has resolutely continued the economic policies of Bush-Clinton-Bush-Reagan, while in reality what America required was a super-F.D.R. (Franklin Delano Roosevelt) in the White House.

Now their obvious plan is to continue with Obama for a second term, thereby realizing their economic program of control fraud. President Obama was a majority-elected president (unlike the weaker Clinton), and in a much stronger position for a second term.

The only way to circumvent their plan is to replace Obama with an authentic democrat and an authentic progressive.

To present an idea of the ease of their manipulation of the American airwaves: a typical "news interview" show features speakers from Peter G. Peterson's Peterson Institute, or

Peterson's Fiscal Times, or Peterson's Concord Coalition, or Peterson's America Speaks, or Peterson's Peterson Foundation.

Also featured would be speakers from David Koch's Cato Institute, or Koch's Heritage Foundation, or Koch's Americans for Prosperity, or Koch's American Enterprise Institute or the jointly financed (Koch and Peterson) Aspen Institute.

This is a loose approximation of what passes for the American corporate media today.
14:17 November 13, 2010 by Swedesmith
@sgt doom

Many historians argue that FDR's policies had very little to do with lifting America out of the Great Depression. The recovery was more due to the effects of WW2 than anything. Hope our great mis-leaders don't try a reprise with WW3.

I will agree with you that there is a lot of stuff going on "behind the curtain" that most Americans are not even distantly aware of.
19:43 November 14, 2010 by sgt_doom
#53 - Swedesmith,

That's been a common supposition by many of the unlearned, such as present Chairman Bernanke who, until very recently had no idea what securitization and credit derivatives were (nor their destructive impact), and still remains ignorant of the effects of securitization leading up to the Great Crash and Great Depression.

Likewise, should you read any of Bernanke's papers, he never figures in the impact of Prohibition (1920-1933) which was financed by the same group who then financed its repeal, and which has the same effect as the American tax cuts for the super-rich (taxes removed from the sale of alcoholic beverages, etc.), and the launder funds through the stock exchanges back in the 1920s, etc.

Full employment would have eventually taken longer, and the establishment of the financial-intelligence complex during WWII by the Wall Streeters hopefully would never have happened, but you have stated a common fallacy and fallguy in lieu of sound analytical reasoning.
20:35 November 15, 2010 by litespeed

First, anyone with even basic economics understand the filthy rich will always be filthy rich, and are exempt from the discussion. RE George Soros. Second, Americans seem to understand, implicitly, not only the above assertion, but that individual financial security is entirely an independent variable.

In other words: I don't give a darn how much my neighbor makes, as long as I have enough. In support of this I will offer two facts about the US. First, the most serious health problem among American poor is morbid obeisity.

Second, we in the US generally divide the income spectrum into five quintiles. And quess what. The most content of all the five quintiles is the second from the bottom. We have actual empirical evidence that happiness is not a linear variable to wealh. And we all know it anyway. Envy and resentment are reserved for the bottom quintile, and the top three.
00:51 November 17, 2010 by dratman
As is all too evident in these comments, a significant, very resentful, poorly-educated segment of the U.S. population clings strongly to a point of view not in accord with the facts of everyday life.

The vitriol you see here - which I find both sad and embarrassing - is typical of what some of us hear whenever we try to advance the use of facts, rather than strident ideology, in plotting the course of the our country's economic future.

How the U.S. became filled with so many uninformed, angry voices is an interesting and difficult question. The answer may be that material culture, pursued without ethical constraint, is bad for people's sense of purpose. Those who find themselves substantially excluded from the banquet of consumer goods, housing, vacations and so forth, and not outfitted with the necessary education to make their way in a complex work environment, are left outside the fence, ignorant and seething.
20:28 November 19, 2010 by Gina Bina
The important thing here is to recognize the rhetoric these tea partiers are spouting. Know and understand where this propaganda originated.

The US government did not hire ex-nazi war criminals only for research for NASA, and their somewhat dubious intelligence during the cold war.

They were hired to teach the CIA, NSA, FBI what it took to manifest the loyalties much of the masses via propaganda, the necessity of government secrets for security, condensing the media, (one 50 owners in the US now 5), closing media channels of any information that might different from the party line, keeping independent thinkers out of the conversation. Making terms contrary to the American dreamers, like "liberalism", and "Socialism".

Now anyone who might have a better understanding of what is, and what it will take to accomplish the American dream are called dissidents, and are infiltrated by the FBI. All these steps are directly related to the acts of the wealthy children and Grandchildren of those who were all for the first and second world wars, US citizens and industry who helped to finance the rise of Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco, and made war profits from both sides. ( Prescott Bush being one of these perpetuators). General Electric to this day is invested heavily in military profits also own at least one of our Television stations, (sorry I cannot remember which one, it is one of these NBC, CBS, 0r ABC me thinks.)
20:45 November 21, 2010 by davidmcawesome
those republicans probably thought you were talking about the other kind of swedish model.
03:40 November 23, 2010 by iridesce
To the Swedish hosts of this exchange of ideas - thanks for the space for those of us here in the States to ... well ... typically bring as much emotion ( rather than logic ) as possible to overwhelm the other side and create fear and alarm ( It amazes me how often this works ).

@Alohart - for my ( rapidly declining ) money, the best post thusfar

@sgtdoom and @GinaBina - you two are always hovering somewhere near the truth - don't know if I am total agreement, and I always look forward to your comments.

Its just sad that the American passion for excellence has been transformed into an attitude that the only good solution is an American one. If we as a nation are able to admit that when other countries :cough: Sweden :cough: are consistently ranked - by their populations and by researchers - in the top five ( health care, education, fiscal soundness, etc ), perhaps we should follow their example instead of wasting time and energy defending our practices.

Wishing you and yours a safe and joyous Thanksgiving, Christmas, Yule, Solstice and/ or whatever tradition you share with family and friends this holiday season.
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